Posts Tagged ‘MDSW’

One behind, another ahead

May 2, 2013

The 2013 festival season is officially open with the 104th Connecticut Sheep and Wool Festival last weekend kicking things off.

And what adorable faces KnittingKittens, Patshere and I found as we

Nellie was a little lamb ...

Nellie was a little lamb …

wandered through!  This was, it seemed, the year of the nursery.  Kids (the kind with hooves), bunnies, and of course, lambs like little Nellie, here.  She is a Romney; by unscientific observation Romney was one of the most visible breeds of this show.

We were pleased to see one of the

Olympia Farm Romney yarns

Olympia Farm Romney yarns

newer farms in Connecticut bringing lovely Romney fiber and yarn to market.  Anne McIntyre-Lahner and Mark Lahner’s Olympia Farm of Guilford first appeared on my radar a couple of years ago.  This year, their booth was well-stocked with natural-colored Romney in cream and grays at various weights and extremely reasonable prices.   The lighter shade you see here comes from Maggie, Bonnie, Coco and Cookie.

Sadly, in spite of victories like that, overall there appeared to be fewer vendors than in previous years.  Some of our favorites were not to be found in the barns and tents, perhaps reflecting just how hard it is to keep a small

Slinky Mink ... an understatement

Slinky Mink … an understatement

independent business afloat.  However, others, like Still River Mill, continue to work at distinguishing themselves with their own unique yarns.  Take, for example, Slinky Mink, pointed out by Clara at Rhinebeck last fall.  It was heavenly to touch.  Find it.  Knit it.  Love it.  Repeat.

As a non-lamb-eater, I did appreciate that the lamb stew and other lamb entrees were not on the menu ~ or infusing an entire indoor area.  I always found it a little jarring (if not downright creepy) to have lamb served up a mere twenty yards from barns with live sheep.

Making knots with a purpose: tatting

Making knots with a purpose: tatting

Every year festival organizers bring great demonstrations to this show.  It is easy to be mesmerized by the bobbin lace makers. I found the tatting equally hypnotic.  It’s kind of like macrame using cobwebs that ultimately produces its own special lace. All those teensy knots and they were just flying by.  It was something to behold.

Since I have been

Fripperies so beautifully displayed ...

Fripperies so beautifully displayed …

somewhat preoccupied planning my new knitting space, I confess to being completely taken by everything about this display from Nifty Thrifty Dry Goods.  It had more trims than I would ever begin to know what to do with … and everything in the booth was just pretty.  (I am ignoring the fact that everything here requires use of a sewing needle and thread, where I

How many owls can YOU spot?

How many owls can YOU spot?

possess no talent whatsoever and generally provoke sympathy from those who see my infantile attempts … )  Then again, maybe if I amassed enough antique spools with enough different ribbons like these, I might be motivated to change that.

Nahhhh.  They’re better just to look at and enjoy.

Now that “the season” is underway, if you are heading out to the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival this weekend, I hope to see you there.  I will be reprising my role as a Booth Babe at Spirit Trail Fiberworks ~ that’s at A30 of the Main Exhibition Hall.  Do come by to see what Jennifer has been cooking up in her dyepots and give me a hoot!



May 16, 2012

I felt it coming on.

A full-blown case of yarntoxication, brought about by Brigantia.  Brigantia is the newest Spirit Trail Fiberworks yarn, a blend of 85% Polwarth and 15% silk.  Polwarth is a breed of sheep, but there’s not much of it that gets spun up for knitters.  Those spinners tend to hoard it all for themselves.  Now I know why.

Mountain Ash – almost as big as the bed

My test project was Kate Gagnon Osborn’s Mountain Ash shawl.  It starts with hundreds of yards of garter stitch, which allowed me to really get a feel for Brigantia.  This DK blend does not split and you can knit for hours without looking at your hands.  For its apparent lightness, the silk also gives it warmth ~ something to keep in mind if your personal thermostat runs hot.  (Mine does not.)  I appreciated the lap blanket it became during the damp wet weeks before MDSW.  The hefty 600-yard put-up seemed like the skein-that-would-not-end.  But it did, about six rows before the knitted-on lace border for the large shawl.

I assure you, this lace border eats yardage and you won’t have as much left as you think you will.  I used Addi Turbo US 6 needles for the entire project to see how Brigantia would perform lace tricks without extra-sharp tips.  Beautifully.  Nary a split anywhere.

Brigantia likes lace lots

The Persian Nights colorway, a ringer for Crayola blue-violet, did not bleed at all in a nice sudsy bath.  For blocking, I wanted to maintain the squishy integrity of the garter stitch and still be able to open up the lace edge, so I ran a lifeline through the stitches where the border joined the shawl and pinned that in place before pinning out the lace points.

Colorway: Persian Nights

Brigantia was happy to oblige: it took the blocking wonderfully and held it well, likely because of its silk content.  Unfortunately, my overtaxed brain failed to remind me to photograph the full shawl on display in the STF booth or anywhere else off the pins.  Sigh.  I hate it when that happens.  Suffice it to say that the finished piece has wonderful drape and leaves me thinking that a whole shawl in Brigantia ~ like Juneberry Triangle or Terra or any one of about a zillion others ~ would be just ducky.

The official 411:

Pattern:  Mountain Ash

Yarn:  1.75 skeins Spirit Trail Fiberworks Brigantia

Needle: Addi Turbo US 6

Pattern mods:  None

Project marriage score:  9

It’s a good thing Brigantia is the STF Knitting Club selection this month.  That means there’s more en route to my house.  Because

Stowaways in Spice

there’s already a skein chez Owl earmarked for an Isla Wrap I know will chase off the fall chill nicely.  And there are these other skeins that vaulted into my carry-on before I left for the airport.

Keep an eye out for Brigantia on this page, where it should appear in late May/early June.  You won’t be disappointed.

Booth’s-eye view

May 8, 2012

Suffice it to say that an unanticipated (but unavoidable) work all-nighter is not the best preparation for an early flight or a weekend stint as Booth Babe at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival.  I don’t recommend it to anyone.   But getting out of Dodge on an early-morning flight before your employer can request demand that you change your plans is highly recommended, no matter the toll on shut-eye.  So it was that I landed at BWI Friday, a bit bleary-eyed, but delighted to be reunited with some of my favorite  fiber friends far away from my real-life responsibilities.

This time, I had an entirely different view of a mega-festival.  The

Our domain for 2 days

work days begin early.  There is only so much set-up you can do ahead of time owing to the unfortunate reality of security and theft.  Which means that each day you must hang samples and displays all over again.  They matter tremendously in selling yarn and as one who knits them, I can attest that they cost more to replace than stolen skeins.  (See that red cardigan in the middle?  That’s the new Skipperdee Cardi designed for STF Verdande.  The pattern was released Friday and sold out fast.)  The show opens, and the traffic does not stop for nine

See the 3rd shopper being devoured by yarn?

hours in a building where temperatures reach well over 80 degrees and shoppers are crammed inside your tiny booth like so many anchovies in a can.

The upside of all this was the opportunity to meet many members of the Spirit Trail Fiberworks group on ravelry in person, as well as some of you.  I so enjoy talking about how each of the yarns performs and answering questions for other knitters.  Plus we had a brand-new yarn to debut: Brigantia, made of 85% Polwarth and 15% silk.  And I was able to visit, however

Daniella of Signature Needle Arts

briefly, with some fabulous folks, like Daniella from Signature Needle Arts, whose company provides some of the most responsive customer service on the planet.  (Not to mention the Lamborghini of needles that help me do what I do at the speed I like to do it!)

It IS all about the sheep

The downside: having to do it all two days in a row.  Even with rubber padding on the floor, feet and back were not especially amused.  And unlike my pleasure-only forays to Rhinebeck, I never really got a sense of the

WHAT do you make with these and how do you hold ’em?

whole festival.  A break here and a break there allowed me to see some usual suspects and other unusual sights.  But I lacked perspective as to the size and scope of MDSW.

Yes, there were giggles galore and belly-laughs, too – that’s to be expected when you put seven or eight unique women who all genuinely like each other into a group with a mission to accomplish.  That’s what made it all worthwhile: the chance to spend time together in May ~ the halfway point before the next Knitter’s Review Retreat.

And did I mention that I brought home some yarn?

* Prize winners coming soon.  Stay tuned.

Charmed: Year 3!

April 29, 2012

How about that?  Three years online and growing.

Most days, I feel like I’m writing for myself, a couple of out-of-state friends, and some former students who don’t have a LYS to take classes with me anymore.  Then I’ll get some revelation that knocks me smack onto my tailfeathers.  Like the new WordPress stat maps that show me readers in Japan and Russia and any number of other places it never occurred to me to think might be swooping by.  (I get really tickled to see Internet searches in Greek.)  I mean, it’s not like there are boundaries on the Internets.  Or the random days where for no particular reason, several hundred people will drop by.  I didn’t put a pie on the windowsill to cool or anything.  But you come anyhow.

It’s all pretty nifty.

Especially the part where I tell you that I’m pretty sure that my family still doesn’t know I’m doing this.  Or if they do, they’re not telling.  And that’s okay, too.

I get the biggest kick out of seeing what you come here to find.  Most often it’s the reviews of how different new yarns perform.  If my experiences can help you decide whether one is right for you, so much the better.

Sadly, I won’t have spent the almost-blogiversary Saturday at the Connecticut Sheep and Wool Festival ~ celebrating its year 103 in 2012.  My evil employers captors have seen fit to incarcerate me at a mega-management program for the weekend.  So have a slice of cake and some ice cream for me, won’t you?

My revenge reward ~ will be to run away next week to an event I’ve never attended:  the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival, MDSW for short.  Bless Mr. Owl for telling me to buy the ticket and go.  Bless Jen and Co. for welcoming me to the Booth Babes sisterhood.  I promise to tell you all about it. You never know what will make it home in the suitcase that Southwest lets me check for free.  (Kiss kiss to Southwest.)

Of course, it wouldn’t be a blogiversary if I didn’t celebrate with a contest and prizes.  Put on your imaginary party hat and think back to what first brought you here.  Tell me about it in the comments below.  Or hold up your glass of bubbly and tell me something else.  Lurkers: This is your cue to come on out!  Contest closes Sunday, May 6 at 11:59 p.m.  Winners to be drawn the old-fashioned way.  Cheers!

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